A Daily Telegraph report over the weekend revealed that customers visiting a central London store were told by a Muslim shop assistant to use another till if they wished to purchase pork or alcohol products.
A customer told the newspaper: "I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic, but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available."
An M&S spokesperson apologised over the issues, stating where an employee’s religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, the retailer looks to "place them in suitable role", such as in its clothing department or bakery departments.
However, the admission that it allows employees to opt out of participating in transactions due to religious beliefs has sparked uproar on social media sites, with thousands of users "liking" a protest group called "Boycott Marks & Spencer".
One individual posted on Facebook: "Disgusted to hear this decision to allow Muslim staff to refuse to sell alcohol and pork products, any staff come to that. I have shopped at M&S for over 45 years and have a M&S card used on a regular basis in all stores including M&S several times a week, I will be using my card to buy only from other stores in future."
Under a post about a Christmas turkey, another user asked: "So .. Can Muslim staff sell me THIS???"
The article first appeared on www.marketingmagazine.co.uk